Oroua Downs School is a well-established country school which has delivered primary education to Year 0 – 8 students for over 100 years. The school is situated on SH 1, 42 kilometers west of Palmerston North and 12 kilometres north of Foxton. The locality of the school ensures a diversity of students and families from Himatangi Beach, lifestyle blocks, and farms. The majority of students travel to school by bus.
Today the school operates 4 classrooms with learning supported by up-to-date resources, a well-stocked library, two swimming pools, extensive playing fields, courts, and a large adventure playground. The extensive playing fields hosts the annual Lamb and Calf Day, presently called Pet Day, for which cups and ribbons have been awarded to participating students since 1938tbc.
The Community contributes an active part in supporting activities at the school. The Oroua Downs School trail bike ride fundraiser has been running for over 5 years and is the joint effort of the wider school community and the Foxton Rotary. This event is well-supported by many local farming families who have a long history of attachment to Oroua Downs school and the district.
Community is a central tenet in the Oroua Downs School history. It was the community who decided to open a school on 21 October 1903 with a roll of 23 pupils. It was the community who rallied together financially and practically in 1907 to obtain a new building on the present site when the roll grew to 53 and the building was over utilised catering for other social activities in the district (like dances, church services and meetings). The school was originally named Himatangi School, reflecting perhaps the view of some residents who wanted the new school built at Himatangi, but was changed to Oroua Downs School in 1910. Mr Francis C Raikes was the first principal and Raikes is the name of one of the school House teams (the other 2 houses being Hammond and Hartley).
The school has experienced building developments and a fluctuating roll over the years. Significant historical events include the fire in 1936 which destroyed the school building and much of the early history. A new school with 2 classrooms was built the following year. A swimming pool was first constructed in 1945 and a learner pool added in 1970. The modifications and continued operation of two school pools is a testimony to a dedicated school and community who had the forethought to create and maintain it over the decades.
In 2012 with the assistance of the Environmental Arts Trust, Creative New Zealand, and the Ceramic Studio, students researched the history of the area and collected stories that could be told in pictures painted on tiles. Long-time residents talked to the children about their memories of Oroua Downs. This work of art and history is located on the Western wall of the former school dental clinic.
For further insight into the School and Oroua Downs History we recommend The Downs – History of Oroua Downs & district for the School Centenary 1903-2003 by Beth Hunt ISBN 0-473-09602-1.